May 3

May 3, 1864

Tuesday. Have felt worse to-day than any day. My neck and shoulders are so lame and sore I can hardly roll my eyes. My mouth is better, and I can begin to use it.

Pleasant in the forenoon, but a gale this afternoon; had brigade drill two hours this afternoon. At last our query for the past two weeks has been answered. A part of the army moved to-day, and no doubt we shall go to-morrow; received orders at 6 o'clock p. m. to march at 4 o'clock a. m. to-morrow. All is confusion in camp.

May Third

Chancellorsville, where 130,000 men were defeated by 60,000, is up to a certain point as much the tactical masterpiece of the nineteenth century as was Leuthen of the eighteenth.

Lieut.-Col. G. F. R. Henderson, C.B.

 

General Pender, you must hold your ground, you must hold your ground.

Jackson's  Last Command

 

 

Cannes May 3, 1882

Lecky's merits stand undiminished by further acquaintance, but the deficiencies become more glaring. The character of Burke, though in my opinion very defective, seems to me the best I have read in the language.

*****

The May Fraser  contains his article,[178 ] and I greatly fear that his judgment will be as critical as my own.

I wonder whether you have the Temps  or Débats  in Downing Street, and have read the speeches of Pasteur and Renan. I do not remember so interesting a reception, and what is serious is that the most powerful intellectual force in France has declared, virtually, for materialism.

[178 ] Mr. S. R. Gardiner's review of "John Inglesant."

May 3

May 3, 1849.--I have never felt any inward assurance of genius, or any presentiment of glory or of happiness. I have never seen myself in imagination great or famous, or even a husband, a father, an influential citizen. This indifference to the future, this absolute self-distrust, are, no doubt, to be taken as signs. What dreams I have are all vague and indefinite; I ought not to live, for I am now scarcely capable of living. Recognize your place; let the living live; and you, gather together your thoughts, leave behind you a legacy of feeling and ideas; you will be most useful so. Renounce yourself, accept the cup given you, with its honey and its gall, as it comes. Bring God down into your heart. Embalm your soul in Him now, make within you a temple for the Holy Spirit, be diligent in good works, make others happier and better.

Put personal ambition away from you, and then you will find consolation in living or in dying, whatever may happen to you.

31. John Adams

Mr. Eliot, of Fairfield, is this moment arrived, on his way to Boston. He read us a letter from the Dr., his father, dated yesterday sennight, being Sunday. The Dr.'s description of the melancholy of the town is enough to melt a stone. The trials of that unhappy and devoted people are likely to be severe indeed. God grant that the furnace of affliction may refine them. God grant that they may be relieved from their present distress.

It is arrogance and presumption, in human sagacity, to pretend to penetrate far into the designs of Heaven. The most perfect reverence and resignation becomes us, but I cannot help depending upon this, that the present dreadful calamity of that beloved town is intended to bind the colonies together in more indissoluble bonds, and to animate their exertions at this great crisis in the affairs of mankind. It has this effect in a most remarkable degree, as far as I have yet seen or heard. It will plead with all America with more irresistible persuasion than angels trumpet-tongued.

In a cause which interests the whole globe, at a time when my friends and country are in such keen distress, I am scarcely ever interrupted in the least degree by apprehensions for my personal safety. I am often concerned for you and our dear babes, surrounded, as you are, by people who are too timorous and too much susceptible of alarms. Many fears and jealousies and imaginary dangers will be suggested to you, but I hope you will not be impressed by them. In case of real danger, of which you cannot fail to have previous intimations, fly to the woods with our children. Give my tenderest love to them, and to all.

May 3

May 3, 1860.--Edgar Quinet has attempted everything: he has aimed at nothing but the greatest things; he is rich in ideas, a master of splendid imagery, serious, enthusiastic, courageous, a noble writer. How is it, then, that he has not more reputation? Because he is too pure; because he is too uniformly ecstatic, fantastic, inspired--a mood which soon palls on Frenchmen. Because he is too single-minded, candid, theoretical, and speculative, too ready to believe in the power of words and of ideas, too expansive and confiding; while at the same time he is lacking in the qualities which amuse clever people--in sarcasm, irony, cunning and finesse. He is an idealist reveling in color: a Platonist brandishing the thyrsus of the Menads. At bottom his is a mind of no particular country. It is in vain that he satirizes Germany and abuses England; he does not make himself any more of a Frenchman by doing so. It is a northern intellect wedded to a southern imagination, but the marriage has not been a happy one. He has the disease of chronic magniloquence, of inveterate sublimity; abstractions for him become personified and colossal beings, which act or speak in colossal fashion; he is intoxicated with the infinite. But one feels all the time that his creations are only individual monologues; he cannot escape from the bounds of a subjective lyrism. Ideas, passions, anger, hopes, complaints--he himself is present in them all. We never have the delight of escaping from his magic circle, of seeing truth as it is, of entering into relation with the phenomena and the beings of whom he speaks, with the reality of things. This imprisonment of the author within his personality looks like conceit. But on the contrary, it is because the heart is generous that the mind is egotistical. It is because Quinet thinks himself so much of a Frenchman that he is it so little. These ironical compensations of destiny are very familiar to me: I have often observed them. Man is nothing but contradiction: the less he knows it the more dupe he is. In consequence of his small capacity for seeing things as they are, Quinet has neither much accuracy nor much balance of mind. He recalls Victor Hugo, with much less artistic power but more historical sense. His principal gift is a great command of imagery and symbolism. He seems to me a Görres [Footnote: Joseph Goerres, a German mystic and disciple of Schelling. He published, among other works, "Mythengeschichte der Asiatischen Welt," and "Christliche Mystik."] transplanted to Franche Comté, a sort of supernumerary prophet, with whom his nation hardly knows what to do, seeing that she loves neither enigmas nor ecstasy nor inflation of language, and that the intoxication of the tripod bores her.

The real excellence of Quinet seems to me to lie in his historical works ("Marnix," "L'Italie," "Les Roumains"), and especially in his studies of nationalities. He was born, to understand these souls, at once more vast and more sublime than individual souls.

(Later ).--I have been translating into verse that page of Goethe's "Faust" in which is contained his pantheistic confession of faith. The translation is not bad, I think. But what a difference between the two languages in the matter of precision! It is like the difference between stump and graving-tool--the one showing the effort, the other noting the result of the act; the one making you feel all that is merely dreamed or vague, formless or vacant, the other determining, fixing, giving shape even to the indefinite; the one representing the cause, the force, the limbo whence things issue, the other the things themselves. German has the obscure depth of the infinite, French the clear brightness of the finite.

Rural Affairs

Monday, 3.

Fair spring days, the farmers beginning the planting of the season's crops. One cannot well forego the pleasures which the culture of a garden affords. He must have a little spot upon which to bestow his affections, and own his affinities with earth and sky. The profits in a pecuniary way may be inconsiderable, but the pleasures are rewarding. Formerly I allowed neither hoe, spade, nor rake, not handled by myself, to approach my plants. But when one has put his garden within covers, to be handled in a book, he fancies he has earned the privilege of delegating the tillage thereafter, in part, to other hands, and may please himself with its superintendence; especially when he is so fortunate as to secure the services of any who can take their orders without debate, and execute them with dispatch; and if he care to compare opinions with them, find they have views of their own, and respect for his. And the more agreeable if they have a pleasant humor and the piety of lively spirits.

"In laborer's ballads oft more piety

God finds than in Te Deum's  melody."

"When our ancestors," says Cato, "praised a good man, they called him a good agriculturist and a good husbandman; he was thought to be greatly honored who was thus praised."

Without his plot of ground for tillage and ornamentation, a countryman seems out of place, its culture and keeping being the best occupation for keeping himself wholesome and sweet. The garden is the tie uniting man and nature. How civic an orchard shows in a clearing,—a garden in a prairie, as if nature waited for man to arrive and complete her, by converting the wild into the human, and thus to marry beauty and utility on the spot! A house, too, without garden or orchard, is unfurnished, incomplete, does not fulfil our ideas of the homestead, but stands isolate, defiant in its individualism, with a savage, slovenly air, and distance, that lacks softening and blending with the surrounding landscape. Besides, it were tantalizing to note the natural advantages of one's grounds, and at the same time be unskilful to complete what nature has sketched for the hand of art to adorn and idealize. With a little skill, good taste, and small outlay of time and pains, one may render any spot a pretty paradise of beauty and comfort,—if these are not one in due combination, and not for himself only, but for those who shall inherit when he shall have left it. The rightful ownership in the landscape is born of one's genius, partakes of his essence thus wrought with the substance of the soil, the structures which he erects thereon. Whoever enriches and adorns the smallest spot, lives not in vain. For him the poet sings, the moralist points his choicest periods.

I know of nothing better suited to inspire a taste for rural affairs than a Gardener's Almanac, containing matters good to be known by country people. All the more attractive the volume if tastefully illustrated, and contain reprints of select pastoral verses, biographies, with portraits of those who have written on country affairs, and lists of their works. The old herbals, too, with all their absurdities, are still tempting books, and contain much information important for the countryman to possess.3

Cowley and Evelyn are of rural authors the most attractive. Cowley's Essays are delightful reading. Nor shall I forgive his biographer for destroying the letters of a man of whom King Charles said at his interment in Westminster Abbey, "Mr. Cowley has not left a better in England." The friend and correspondent of the most distinguished poets, statesmen, and gentlemen of his time, himself the first poet of his day, his letters must have been most interesting and important, and but for the unsettled temper of affairs, would doubtless have been added to our polite literature.

Had King Charles remembered Cowley's friend Evelyn, the compliment both to the living and dead would have been just. Evelyn was the best of citizens and most loyal of subjects. A complete list of his writings shows to what excellent uses he gave himself. The planter of forests in his time, he might be profitably consulted as regards the replanting of New England now.

Respecting his planting, and the origin of his Sylva, he writes to his friend, Lady Sunderland, August, 1690:—

"As to the Kalendar your ladyship mentions, whatever assistance it may be to some novice gardener, sure I am his lordship will find nothing in it worth his notice, but an old inclination to an innocent diversion; and the acceptance it found with my dear, and while he lived, worthy friend, Mr. Cowley; upon whose reputation only it has survived seven impressions, and is now entering on the eighth, with some considerable improvement more agreeable to the present curiosity. 'Tis now, Madam, almost forty years since I first writ it, when horticulture was not much advanced in England, and near thirty years since it was published, which consideration will, I hope, excuse its many defects. If in the meantime it deserve the name of no unuseful trifle, 'tis all it is capable of.

"When, many years ago, I came from rambling abroad, and a great deal more since I came home than gave me much satisfaction, and, as events have proved, scarce worth one's pursuit, I cast about how I should employ the time which hangs on most young men's hands, to the best advantage; and, when books and grave studies grew tedious, and other impertinence would be pressing, by what innocent diversions I might sometimes relieve myself without compliance to recreations I took no felicity in, because they did not contribute to any improvement of mind. This set me upon planting of trees, and brought forth my Sylva, which book, infinitely beyond my expectations, is now also calling for a fourth impression, and has been the occasion of propagating many millions of useful timber trees throughout this nation, as I may justify without immodesty, from many letters of acknowledgement received from gentlemen of the first quality, and others altogether strangers to me. His late Majesty, Charles II, was sometimes graciously pleased to take notice of it to me; and that I had by that book alone incited a world of planters to repair their broken estates and woods which the greedy rebels had wasted and made such havoc of. Upon encouragement, I was once speaking to a mighty man then in despotic power to mention the great inclination I had to serve his majesty in a little office then newly vacant (the salary I think hardly £300), whose province was to inspect the timber trees in his majesty's forests, etc., and take care of their culture and improvement; but this was conferred upon another, who, I believe, had seldom been out of the smoke of London, where, though there was a great deal of timber, there were not many trees. I confess I had an inclination to the employment upon a public account as well as its being suitable to my rural genius, born as I was, at Watton, among woods.

"Soon after this, happened the direful conflagration of this city, when, taking notice of our want of books of architecture in the English tongue, I published those most useful directions of ten of the best authors on that subject, whose works were very rarely to be had, all written in French, Latin, or Italian, and so not intelligible to our mechanics. What the fruit of that labor and cost has been, (for the sculptures, which are elegant, were very chargeable,) the great improvement of our workmen and several impressions of the copy since will best testify.

"In this method I thought proper to begin planting trees, because they would require time for growth, and be advancing to delight and shade at least, and were, therefore, by no means to be neglected and deferred, while buildings might be raised and finished in a summer or two, if the owner pleased.

"Thus, Madam, I endeavored to do my countrymen some little service, in as natural an order as I could for the improving and adorning of their estates and dwellings, and, if possible, make them in love with those useful and innocent pleasures, in exchange for a wasteful and ignoble sloth which I had observed so universally corrupted an ingenious education.

"To these I likewise added my little history of Chalcography, a treatise of the perfection of painting and of libraries, medals, with some other intermesses which might divert within doors as well as altogether without."

3. To the list of ancient authors, as Cato, Columella, Varro, Palladius, Virgil, Theocritus, Tibullus, selections might be added from Cowley, Marlowe, Browne, Spenser, Tusser, Dyer, Phillips, Shenstone, Cowper, Thomson, and others less known. Evelyn's works are of great value, his Kalendarium Hortense particularly. And for showing the state of agriculture and of the language in his time, Tusser's Five Hundred Points of Husbandry is full of information, while his quaint humor adds to his rugged rhymes a primitive charm. Then of the old herbals, Gerard's is best known. He was the father of English herbalists, and had a garden attached to his house in Holbern. Coles published his Adam in Eden, the Paradise of Plants, in 1659; Austin his Treatise on Fruit Trees ten years earlier. Dr. Holland's translation of the School of Salerne, or the Regiment of Health, appeared in 1649. Thos. Tryon wrote on the virtues of plants, and on health, about the same time, and his works are very suggestive and valuable. Miller, gardener to the Chelsea Gardens, gave the first edition of his Gardener's Dictionary to the press in 1731. Sir William Temple also wrote sensibly on herbs. Cowley's Six Books of Plants was published in English in 1708. Phillips' History of Cultivated Plants, etc., published in 1822, is a book of great merit. So is Culpepper's Herbal.